CLINTON LAND CONSERVATION TRUST, INC.
48th ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT
FOR THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 to AUGUST 31, 2015
We started our fiscal year with investments and cash totaling $478,061.78 and ended our fiscal year on August 31, 2015 with investments and cash totaling $513,538.00. This represents a net increase in our endowment portfolio of $35,476.22.
Dividends and interest earned on investments this year totaled $16,203.00. We received $5,5820.00 in membership dues and for general donations, which include donations for the David and Alice Crosby Scholarship, land acquisition, programs and maintenance. We also received a $500.00 donation from Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale and $261.00 in grant money was received from the United States Department of Agriculture.
We received $160,000.00 from the State of Connecticut, $53,000.00 from the Town of Clinton and $30,000.00 from the Connecticut Water Company towards the purchase of the Weiss and Loveday properties. We also received $17,440.00 in additional private donations, including $5,000.00 from Newman’s Own Foundation. The total amount for the purchase, including all associated costs was $381,581.16. We took out a loan in the amount of $120,991.16 to pay the balance due on the purchase.
We had operating expenses of $19,974.00 this year, compared with $23,896.00 last year, which represents a decrease of $3,922.39. Expenses include costs for insurance, property maintenance, Website and network support, accounting fees, printing and postage, boundary and trail maintenance, and our annual scholarship awards.
The Finance Committee, which includes our treasurer Jack Breen, Ken McDonnell, Annie Sterna, Mike Houde and Dave Adams from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, is compiling an annual report with exact figures and totals. This report will be posted on our Website within the next week or two. We completed and filed our 990 Tax Return as required by the IRS in April for the previous fiscal year.
We purchased three new properties this year: The Weiss, Loveday and Maltese properties, totaling 40.36acres. The total acreage now owned by the Trust is 878.26 acres. The list of properties held by the Trust is attached to this report. The Trust also owns conservation easements on five privately owned parcels representing approximately 3 acres.
STEWARDSHIP OF LAND
Vice President Frank Byrne continued as chair of our Land Management Committee, which includes Dana Whitney, Greg Mirando and Gary Stevens. Frank and his Land Management Committee, along with our volunteers, continued their regular monthly work days held on the second Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at various properties as listed on our Website.
In keeping with the wishes of Lucy Elliot to maintain the Elliot Preserve as a meadow, most of the workdays this past year have been dedicated to clearing brush and debris from the property. With the help of Stevens Excavating and Affordable Tree Services, along with our land trust volunteers and volunteers from the bordering Morgan Park neighborhood, many loads of material were cleared and brought to the Clinton Dump. We also maintained the loop trail around the property that was created last year, and the Trust installed a sign at the entrance to the property identifying the Elliot Preserve. Additionally we continued the mowing of the property and battling the invasive plant species as well.
The Trust is planning a grand opening of the Elliot Preserve on October 31. The exact time to be announced soon on our Website.
The following is a list of some of the other projects accomplished by Land Management over the past year:
- Mowed Jesse Buell wildflower meadow and cleaned up trails there,
- The plank walk in the Chittenden Preserve was completed,
- Melissa Evarts and the Connecticut Horse Council, who use CLCT trails, continued to help us clear and monitor trails on our properties.
OUTREACH AND EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS
Sally Heffernan continued as chair of our Outreach Committee, which also includes Larry Ouellette, Mike Castiglione, Kim Flanagan and Dana Skidmore. This committee has been in charge of publicity and environmental education through various events throughout the year.
The 17th Annual Alice and David Crosby Scholarship was awarded this year to 2015 Morgan School graduate, Lucas Cummings, who is currently attending UCONN in the Honors Program majoring in Environmental Science.
The 6th annual Eunice Carter Symonds Scholarships were awarded this year. To 4th and 5th grade students at the Abraham Pierson School. The scholarship winners were Alex Gallardo, Jessica Flanagan, Lily Harris, Courtney Dombkowski. Each student attended a two-week session at the Bushy Hill Camp in Essex. Bushy Hill Camp’s program has been recognized nationally and has been used as a model for environmental camp programs across the country.
In February, the Trust again sponsored a Winter Animal Tracking Program called “Who’s Been in My Back Yard?” at the Indian River Complex. Eric Becker, former director of the Bushy Hill Camp,did an excellent job engaging and teaching a large group of kids how to identify different animal tracks in the snow.
In March we sponsored an information booth again at the Clinton Chamber of Commerce Expo.
In April we sponsored the thirteenth annual Peeper Patrol at the Indian River Complex with herpetologist Chuck Annicelli. After Chucks indoor presentation on snakes, frogs and amphibians, the group went outside for the annual expedition into the woods and vernal pool adjacent to the playing fields.
At the end of May, Board members Mike Houde and Dana Skidmore held another of the annual field trips to the Town Beach with students from the Abraham Pierson School for the annual “Pierson Beach Day.” This year’s event was expanded to include members of The Morgan School to help with the event.
From the end of June into the beginning of July, Dana Skidmore conducted another ecology camp for children ages 7 to 10 at the Town Beach and at our Peters Memorial Woods. The camp is co-sponsored by the Clinton Park and Recreation Department and the Trust. The Trust provided T-shirts for each camper along with some supplies. A slide show of the Camp’s activities can be seen on our Website.
In August the Trust co-sponsored a summer reading program with the Henry Carter Hull Library in honor of Lynnabeth Mays. The program culminated with an event with Nature Nick, and live animals, including a kangaroo.
In October the Outreach Committee again joined thousands of volunteers worldwide in the International Beach Clean-up Day. Board members, along with a group of volunteers and members of Clinton’s Pretty Committee collected trash from beaches along the Clinton Harbor, Hammock River and Cedar Island. Each year all the debris is categorized and documented and the results are sent to Save the Sound for analysis.
GRANTS AND LAND ACQUISITION
Last year at our Annual Meeting, I reported that the Trust was in the process of acquiring the Weiss, Loveday and Maltese properties. After many months of working to secure and protect this open space, on September 21, 2015 the Trust closed on the purchase of these three properties. Totaling approximately 40 acres in the northwest corner of town, the land connects with 12.8 acres of Cockaponset State Forest and 12.62 acres of land already owned by the Trust. All together these parcels create 64 acres of contiguous open space. The Weiss and Loveday properties protect two wells that produce a million gallons of pure drinking water per day to over 6,000 homes and businesses in Clinton and Madison. This acquisition involved the efforts of many people, but I would like to take a minute to thank Ken McDonnell for his legal expertise, hours of pro-bono work and persistence in sorting out the many details involved in making this purchase a reality.
Our secretary, Sue Savitt, has updated our membership and continues to keep it current.Our total number of active memberships of individuals, families and businesses who renew annually, plus the life memberships is 146.The breakdown of memberships is as follows:
Individual Members: 19· Family Members: 40· Life Members: 85· Business Members: 2Our membership categories continue to be as follows:Individual Annual ($15)· Family Annual ($25)· Business Annual ($40)· Individual Life ($100)· Family Life ($150)
I was reading an article recently about how the planet is now in the “age of the humans,” meaning that the population of the human species has grown so rapidly that we are now the major force affecting the natural world. In 1953 there were approximately 2.5 billion people on the planet. By the year 2050 that number will have more than tripled to 9 billion. Every life sustaining resource that our environment provides—air, water, food, forests—and all life on the earth will face increase pressure from human activity.
Here in Clinton the big news for the CLCT this past year was the purchase of the Weiss and Loveday properties. As mentioned earlier, the purchase of this open space involved collaboration between the Trust, the Town of Clinton, the Water Company and many private donors. On a local level and on an international level, we have reached a point in human development where in order for people to thrive, the natural world must thrive as well. It can’t be one or the other. It can’t be one at the expense of the other. They both must thrive together. The Town leaders, boards and commissions need to embrace this concept. The Weiss and Loveday purchase is a good first step in that direction.
The CLCT, its members and dedicated volunteers all advocate for our natural world right here in Clinton, and by doing so they advocate for all life on the planet. That is no small thing.
Michael J. Houde
President of the Clinton Land Conservation Trust, Inc.
October 19, 2015